In addition to enjoying my mother’s home cooking, I also managed to get out while I was in Montreal. In all, I visited nine restaurants over the course of my stay. No favorites like Au Pied de Cochon or Garde Manger this time, and still no luck getting a table at either Kitchenette or Joe Beef, but I did get to check out a few new places in addition to paying others a return visit.
So, how were they? Well, some disappointed while others surprised. Still others – well, they were pretty much what I expected.
Counting them down…
9. PETINOS (Dollard-Des-Ormeaux)
I purposely avoided calling this a Worst to First list because, in truth, I didn’t visit any bad restaurants. On this trip, they ranged from okay to terrific. Petinos finds itself on the bottom mostly owing to the fact that I simply don’t like breakfast places. If I really want eggs, I can just make them at home and, quite honestly, I’ve never gone somewhere and said “Wow! I’ve really got to come back for these eggs!”. Having said that, Petinos offers more than eggs. Much, much more. My sister, for instance, had the nutella-banana crepe which was good – though, again, I’d argue something I could just as readily make at home. I had a fine omelet.
8. DEJEUNER COSMOPOLITAN
Another breakfast place but this one rates a little higher owing to the dish I ordered: a couple of poached eggs, blueberry pancakes, and creton. The latter is a grey Quebecois “pork spread” that, frankly, doesn’t taste anywhere near as good as it sounds (and thats being kind). The eggs and pancake, on the other hand, were good.
7. OSTERIA VENTI
All of my fellow diners seemed to enjoy this restaurant a lot more than I did. I suppose if I’d limited myself to the Tuscan chicken liver starter (two portions – sweet, salty, and a touch of bitter – served in rustic fashion) this restaurant would have rated higher. However, I ordered the breaded veal cutlet which turned out to be a huge disappointment. Instead of golden crisp, its breading was moist, fell off in clumps, and tasted of bad oil.
6. AVOCADO SUSHI DU VILLAGE
Back when I lived in Montreal, I loved going out for sushi. Then, I moved to Vancouver (and, later, visited Japan) and discovered how truly great sushi could be. On subsequent visits to Montreal, I returned to some of my old haunts and discovered the truth: sushi in Montreal pales in comparison. This, I think, forces them to be more creative in their roll making, combining such diverse, occasionally odd, ingredients as fish, fruit, vegetables, and sundry sauces.
A nice place with inspired rolls; above-average by Montreal sushi standards.
5. RESTAURANT CHAO PHRAYA
I used to love this place back when I lived in Montreal and, while I still enjoyed a good meal here on this visit (some 15 years since my move), it didn’t quite hold the same appeal this time out. Maybe it’s my mind playing tricks on me, but I seem to recall this place being a little more upscale, the dishes a little more refined. Still, it was a very good dinner and Akemi, in particular, enjoyed the red curry – which she ended up sipping at meal’s end (but regretting later that night).
4. BOUILLON BILK
My friend, Tom, raved about this place and rated it his favorite on HIS last trip to Montreal, so I was very eager to try it out. The service was excellent and the dishes were inspired, almost outstanding – if not for the fact that almost all of them were overly salted.
3. SMOKE MEAT PETE
My preferred place for smoked meat is this little spot on the West Island. I always order it medium (not too lean and not too fatty) and it never disappoints. The fries on this day, however, were a little greasy.
2. 400 COUPS
Similar to Bouillon Bilk in terms of the creativity on the plate, 400 Coups gets the edge on this trip owing to its subtlety of flavors and superior desserts. High end dishes in a warm and casual environment.
1. RESTAURANT MEZCLA
This restaurant, specializing in nuevo latino cuisine, was the surprise hit of this trip. How good was this place? So good, that even my mother couldn’t stop raving about it. So good that I wanted to go back for one more dinner before I left town (Unfortunately, they were closed). I’m pretty confident that those duck heart starters and the morado (purple corn) sauce are going to end up being one of my Top 10 Tastes for 2014. Crazy good!